Footballs and Box

Well I managed to temporarily drag myself away from the seemingly never ending kitchen renovation project and focus a little dans le jardin.

The continued run of exceptionally mild weather has given opportunity to plant without any thoughts of frost or dank weather. In an average year, the last planting out date is usually assumed to be around the 26th or 27th November, the French Saint days of Saint Séverin or Saint Jacques. The soil is still warm enough for root development, there's little or no transpiration and evaporation, all in all perfect. Don't tell the weather though. It may at, or ahead of script this year, but back in 2007 we were having a run of severe frosts at this time, lows dropping to -7 and -8C, not planting weather at all.

For some time, in fact every year, I seem to always find myself dissatisfied with the border up by the barn gable end. This year was no exception, the hollyhocks grew into dominant triffid monsters shading and dwarfing everything else, reaching eight feet in some cases, way too successful, so I've dug them out, au revoir! But what a palaver. Seems the end of the tap root is pretty much equidistant south to the top growth north.

So time for a change. I've been picking up box balls whenever they've been available at a discount, although even then the price always feels stratospheric. I've planted a lot of Salvia 'monrovia blue', Lavender 'grosso' and two Cardoons that I started from seed at the end of the Summer.

To echo the 'boule' theme, and to get rid of the excess mortar I'd been using in the kitchen, I stuffed three different sized footballs full of it, waited twenty four hours and then peeled the balls away. Looks quite good. They needed wire brushing though. Rough them up and get rid of reverse imprints saying stuff like 'FIFA' and 'the road to Wembley'. They just need to 'weather' now.


  1. Hehe, that was a good one! Eh, three, actually :)))

  2. Great pictures and can I just say how good your soil looks.

  3. The "boule" idea, now that is quite good.
    next time I am concreting (I love a bit of hard landscaping)I am going to try this.
    Not sure what my son will say when he sees me ripping up his old plastic footballs :-)

  4. Like the idea of the mortar balls. It's still mild here in Wales but wet and miserable. I'm very envious of that sunshine I can see in the photo.

  5. Your garden is so pretty... Love the cardoons! I love seeing winter gardens from places warmer than here (one of the colder U.S. states). All I can see out the window is snow. Brr. Enjoy your lovely weather!

  6. You have time to keep all the box balls pruned? I take the lazy way. I once saw a photo of Jacques Wirtz' home where he pruned all the overgrown box into a kind of continuous wavy shape. But you seem to be an energetic guy, renovating ancient kitchens and all. Like the balls. Thinking about what I can do with concrete.

  7. The cement spheres work very well in continuing the boule theme. I love the combination of dark green box and bright blue sage.

  8. Great results! I like that garden bed with the added boules.

    (very clever word play with your post)

  9. Hi Tone, three for now.

    Hermes thanks. The soil is a bit too good, hence hollyhocks reaching huge heights.

    Celine hi, make some, dead easy.

    Wellywoman, It's been exceptionally mild, it all feels like borrowed time.

    Wilma thanks

    Little miss Sunshine, I'm looking forward to seeing the cardoons take off next spring. I'm not jealous of your snowy weather.

    James I'll have pruning time once the kitchen is finished. I've seen photos of Jacques Wirtz wavy box hedges. Beautiful.

    Sweetbay, I really liked the blue salvia, it works with the box, there's no other colour in that border, more blue with the lavender and that's it.

    Freda hi and thanks. The imprints in the balls made me laugh. I had to vigorously wire brush out a valve.

  10. Great use of the excess mortar, Rob... will have to remember that. And I love your choice of plantings. Unfortunately we have had several frosts, thus our Cardoons have been bitten badly, but come spring, it begins again.

  11. Love the boule idea, they are going to look fantastic once they are weathered. Diane

  12. Diana, I'm really looking forward to the cardoons next year.

    Hi Diane, thanks, they need some winter rain, where ever that is?

  13. Amazing/clever, Rob! Time for a glass of wine! :)

  14. Gode billeder.
    Smuk have.
    Tak for kigget.

  15. Looks great - congratulations!
    they fit perfectly!
    I am planing some concrete works for the garden next year. Unfortunately it's too cold by now outside. And I am focused on making jute pillows :)

  16. Rob, garden is looking great. Silly question, but as an absolute amateur gardener could you please explain how you got the mortar inside the balls?

  17. Ella Sophia hi.

    I cut holes around 8 or 10 cms diametre in the top of the balls.

    Note before cutting the hole, while the balls are inflated, push them into some soft sand a bit to support them. I 'loosened' the mortar a fair bit with water so as to almost pour it in.


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